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The toxicity of a dysfunctional relationship can spread like a disease to all areas of a person’s life, affecting work, family, and friendships—even health. A study by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that staying in a bad marriage increases your risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer of both men and women in the United States. The first step toward breaking free from a toxic relationship is recognizing the warning signs.

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1. Passive-Aggressive Behavior

If your intuition is telling you something is wrong, but when you ask your partner about it, you’re met with silence that feels like a punishment, that’s passive-aggressive behavior. Passive aggression is the avoidance of direct confrontation and an indirect resistance to the demands of others. This behavior erodes healthy relationships by shutting down open and healthy communication on one person’s terms. If something feels a little “off,” but you keep getting shut down when you bring up your concerns, that’s a warning sign of an unhealthy relationship dynamic.

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This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.